After years of sold out “Musical Mondays,” Musical Theatre Heritage plunged in, head first, to offer its initial “Musical Tuesday,” April 15, to accommodate those shut out from the previous one night only format.
The premiere performance of the Tuesday show would better be known as “Powerhouse Tuesday.” Tim Scott, host for the “Musical Monday” series opened the show with a song from Broadway’s “Rock of Ages,” “Just like Paradise” and “Nothin’ But a Good Time.”
The rest of the cast burst onstage to join in, and the fun began. Excitement, energy, and electricity started with Scott igniting the evening as the powerful songfest continued to surge.
Audience approval signaled that they were in tune with the music format, a celebration of 1980s rock and roll music. The featured Broadway show for the evening, “Rock of Ages,” provided the background for the show. As a special enhancement, Tony Award Nominee, and director of the Broadway show, Kristin Hanggi attended and explained the concept of “Rock of Ages,” and introduced some of the songs from the show.
Hangii came for the two night performances of Musical Theatre Heritage’s performances and also conducted a Master Class, Tuesday, April 15. According to a press release from MTH, “Kristin Hanggi is best known for directing and developing the international smash-hit ‘Rock of Ages,’ nominated for five Tony Nominations including Best Direction of a Musical for Kristin Hanggi. She has directed the productions on Broadway, in London’s West End, Australia, Toronto, Las Vegas, and two National Tours.”
As for the initial “Musical Tuesday,” about two-thirds of the seats were filled with enthusiastic fans, family, and friends and of the performers. Electric energy best describes the show as it unfolded. Each performance took the enthusiasm from the previous number and built upon it as applause grew throughout the show.
One after another, vocalists jumped on center stage to showcase their individual talents. Even in duets, each performer found a way to deliver a stellar individual vocal section. What stands out as amazing, all performers fully engaged their talents to demonstrate their voices. The musical selections were there personal connections to both song and audience.
From the seats, the joy and personalities of all entertainers displayed throughout the evening and with each individual number. Not a weak performance nor sour note surfaced during the show.
Performers included: Tim Scott, host; Samantha Barboza, Shelby Floyd, Chad Gerlt, Katie Gilchrist, Megan Herrera, Patrick Lewallen, Leah Swank-Miller, Zachary J. Parker, Vince Onofrio Monachino, Francisco Javier Villegas. Lottery Singers were: John Hileman and Christopher Carlson. Band members were: Todd Barnard, Curtis Oberle, Jeremy Watson, Brian Wilson and Ryan Wurtz.
Scott led off Act I with “Just Like Paradise” and “Nothin’ But a Good Time” that served as the introduction to the entire cast and band. Barboza followed with “Gorgeous.” Floyd and Villegas teamed for a stirring version of “I Hate Myself for Lovin’ You.” Then, Leah Swank-Miller belted out a poignant version of “Someone Else’s Story” from the musical, “Chess.” As a comedy piece, Monachino chose a song from “Rocky Horror Show,” “What You Own.” Not to be outdone, Floyd and Lewallen teamed for “High Enough.”
One of many high points of the Act I came when Swank-Miller argued with Scott while on her way into another song, this one from the classic “Guys and Dolls.” Together they sang as Adelaide and Nathan in the duet, “Sue Me.” The number allowed both to show their comedy flair.
Gilchrist showed off her powerful voice with “Angry Inch” from a new Broadway show. Also in the first act, one of the lottery winners performed a solo. Christopher Carlton performed a song from “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” The entire cast joined for “Here I Go Again,” before the first half ended.
Act II began with a surprise, Gerlt found himself, seemingly reluctant to perform, busting out “Lovin, Touchin’ Squeezin” to the delight of the audience who generally never hears the producer sing. That began an energized Act II.
The ensemble joined Gilchrist and Villegas for “Any Way You Want It” and “I Wanna Rock,” as the second act jettisoned along. Parker sang “Perfect, Finite,” and Herrera then displayed her incredible range with “Ice Cream.” Sound tech and lottery winner John Hileman took center stage for his solo spot.
Showing off more of her comedic side with, “Whatever Happened to My Part?” from “Spamalot” Barboza turned up the volume and shook the rafters. Not to be outdone, the ensemble united with “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” before Villegas displayed his enthusiasm with “Raise a Little Hell.” Floyd followed his with a comedic “Summer in Ohio,” and Lewallen showcased his superb voice and volume with the “Jekyll and Hyde” show-stopper, “This is the Moment.”
As the finale, the cast performed “Don’t Stop Believin’” from “Rock of Ages” to tie the show together and end with the audience on its feet participating in the number. Arms waved, cell phone flashlights symbolized Bic lighters at concerts. After that, screams, yells and tons of applause rewarded the performance.
In promotion for the show, MTH said the show offers, tons of huge group numbers, nine headliners, stellar individual performances an duets, surprise lottery singers, and Jeremy Watson on piano with a terrific five-man band.
Now in it's sixth season, “Musical Monday is an impromptu evening of cabaret style musical theater starring KC's top performers. It is produced six times a year at the The Off Center Theatre in Crown Center. Monday is the traditional day off in the theater world, and MTH uses it to bring together both theater performers and theater lovers in a fun, festive, casual environment,” according to their website.
Each “Musical Monday” features "headliners" who perform throughout the evening. The show highlights a handful of tunes from our featured musical of the evening, while Executive Director George Harter offers insight and interesting anecdotes about that musical's history and background, Chad Gerlt, executive producer said.
To add to the excitement, there is a “lottery system” which offers literally anyone a chance to sing one song that night. The lottery selection provides an opportunity for emerging artists to showcase their talents before a receptive audience, while being backed by professional musicians, Gerlt said.
“Musical Monday” and “Musical Tuesday” is hosted by Tim Scott and features Jeremy Watson at the piano, and regularly showcases bass, drums, and guitar. For the most recent show nine performers showcased their talents. According to Scott, five performed for the first time at a “Musical Monday” show.
Next up for “Musical Monday” on June 23, the score from “Pal Joey” will be featured and another production in September is on tap. As for Musical Theatre Heritage, they plan to present “South Pacific” next, from Aug.7-24 and end 2014 with “Oliver” in December, Cindy Ross, box office manager, said.
For more information on Musical Theatre Heritage or to purchase tickets to future productions, go to their webpage: http://www.musicaltheaterheritage.com or call their box office at 816.545.6000.